Love them or hate them exams are a necessary part of education and there is no way of avoiding them. Many students find them difficult, while others have a more relaxed approach, but there is no denying that exam periods are a stressful time for students. It may not be possible to eliminate the stress altogether, but there are a number of ways in which students can give themselves the best possible chance. Below are some tips on how to best prepare yourself in the lead-up to, and during, an exam. For more details check MWNS.
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1. Focus on the task in hand!
Having to revise and remember all the necessary information ready for a single exam can feel overwhelming and at times a little frustrating, and as a result, it is easy to put off revision, instead of burying your head in the sand in favor of more enjoyable tasks. When studying for an exam, procrastination is the one thing you want to avoid. This is of course easier said than done now that we are constantly surrounded by external influences such as social media and the internet, so a good tip is to set aside small chunks of study time where you are free from potential distractions. Leaving your revision until the last minute seems like a more enjoyable option at the time, but will only create more stress, as you will realize you have left it too late and will go into the exam feeling under-prepared and panicked. Break your revision into logical sections, make a to-do list, and tick things off once you have achieved them. This will give you a feeling of accomplishment, and help you feel ready for the big day.
2. Don’t leave it until the night before!
While for some students this is the revision method of choice, do not be tempted. You should be going into your exam clear-headed, well-prepared, calm and above all, well-rested. It is a myth that cramming the night before will leave the information fresh in your mind, conversely, the lack of sleep will cause more stress and anxiety, and will almost certainly have a detrimental effect on your performance. Instead, spend the weeks beforehand methodically working through your revision notes, ensuring you cover all topics, then review the content briefly the night before and finally quiz yourself in the morning. A good night’s sleep will always set your day off on the right foot!
3. Keep calm!
Feeling nervous and anxious before an exam is of course common and perfectly normal, especially if the exam results have important consequences, but rest assured that panicking is the worst thing you can do. If you have followed your revision timetable, sought help on any areas you find difficult and covered all the relevant topics, have confidence in your ability and the belief that you have done everything you can to prepare. You won’t be the only one feeling nervous, so try to relax and tell yourself that it’s all a learning experience, and in a few hours the hard work will be over!
4. Spend more time studying the topics you struggle with!
Revision for an exam is a daunting prospect, so it is of course tempting to start with the topics you find easy and leave the harder ones for later, but it will be much more beneficial to tackle your revision the other way round. By targeting the trickier subjects, and really getting to grips with understanding them, you will feel much more confident and well-prepared, and it will make going over the subjects you find easier even more enjoyable!
5. Start your day as you mean to go on!
To complete an exam to the best of your ability, you need to go into it well-rested and with a clear head. The key to this is a healthy, nutritious breakfast, feeding the brain and enabling you to focus for the whole exam period. Feeling hungry will decrease your energy levels and make it harder to concentrate. Even if you are not in the habit of eating breakfast, make sure you eat something on the morning of the exam, avoiding sugary snacks in favor of high protein foods.
6. Keep a close eye on the time!
In general, there will always be a clock visible in an exam room, but a good tip is to also wear a watch, as you will not be allowed to take your phone in. It is very important to be aware of exactly how much time you have and to work out how much time you should be spending on each question. If you have 3 hours to answer 3 questions, don’t spend 1.5 hours answering the first one, and then have to rush the final 2. Be aware of the time during the exam, and keep checking the clock, so as to allow adequate time for each question, and not be left scribbling frantically in the last few minutes!
7. Preparation is key!
Prepare everything the night before! Systematically go through all the things you will need on exam day, from clothing to stationery to that all-important bottle of water, and pack your bag so you are ready to go. The day of the exam is not the time to find out you are missing something vital. Also, make sure you take spares of everything. Pens run out and pencils snap, so don’t allow this to be an issue. You want to eliminate as much stress as possible on the morning of the exam, and being well-prepared will put you in the right frame of mind from the outset.
8. Answer every question!
You probably won’t know the answer to every question, and a couple of questions may catch you unawares, but never leave anything blank. Only by leaving a question blank are you guaranteeing that you will receive no marks, so have a go at everything. You may not feel confident in your answer, but it is certainly better than nothing. It may just turn out to be right, or even partially right, in which case those extra couple of points will be a huge bonus.